With the darker morning upon us, it becomes harder to get up and go when the alarm goes off.
Wake up, sleepy head!
Autumn’s darker mornings and colder temperatures make leaving the cozy confines of your bed even harder. If you find yourself waking up feeling groggy, foggy, flat, or anxious (or all of the above), then it might be time to add some extra ammunition to your early morning arsenal. Here are some My Mind News tips for making mornings better.
1. Start a singalong
If you’re one of the 86% of Brits who admit to singing in the shower, it’s not a habit to give up anytime soon. According to scientific research, there’s increasing evidence to suggest that singing releases important mood-boosting neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which promote feelings of wellbeing.
Factor in the endorphins released from the physical impact of oxygen being pumped into the blood when you sing, and it’s not hard to see why it’s such a euphoric exercise. The complex demands on your brain when you sing also mean it’s good for improving memory and overall cognitive function, a key reason why singing often features heavily in dementia therapies.
A morning sing-song can be a potent stress reliever, too, as it relies on deep, diaphragmatic breathing, which triggers the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and lower cortisol levels.
2. Prep a playlist
If you prefer a more passive start to your morning, listening to music has been shown to provide a psychological boost to your wellbeing. What you listen to when you wake up matters, though; energizing tracks, usually with a tempo of 50 to 80 beats per minute, stimulate the subcortical area in the brain that controls motivation.
If you’ve woken up feeling anxious about the day ahead, try some classical music instead. As well as releasing calming dopamine, which inhibits the production of stress hormones, it can also impact heart health by lowering blood pressure.
3. Try a cold plunge
Cold water exposure benefits include strengthening immunity, boosting mood, and improving metabolism, but if an early morning wild swim is out of the question and you can’t stomach an icy shower, dunking your wrists in cold water is equally as effective.
Working in a similar way to regular cold exposure, it works by helping to reduce cortisol levels and heart rate and increase endorphins. The wrists are a great conduit as they contain so many major arteries so the effects are felt more quickly.
4. Opt for oranges
If you constantly wake up feeling groggy, swapping your morning cup of tea for a glass of orange juice can help. According to a study by Reading University, participants who drank a glass of orange juice every morning for eight weeks showed an improvement in cognitive function over the course of the day compared to those who didn’t.
This is down to the high quantity of flavonoids present in orange juice, phytochemicals that help improve brain function by activating signaling pathways in the hippocampus, where learning and memory are processed.
5. Scent your space
Studies have shown that scent can have a powerful neurological impact thanks to the connection between smell receptors and the limbic system, the area in the brain responsible for mood and memory. While lavender is best saved for bedtime thanks to its relaxing properties, it’s citrus scents you should be reaching for to kick-start your morning.
In one study, participants who inhaled lemon fragrance were found to have higher levels of alertness compared to their resting state. For something greener, try rosemary essential oil, which stimulates mental energy and boosts memory function. Pine essential oil, meanwhile, has more potential than just scenting your favorite Christmas candle.
As well as reducing mental fatigue, it aids concentration and promotes mental clarity. The quickest and easiest way to infuse your space with scent is via a diffuser.
Will you be trying any of our suggested techniques? Let us know in the comments.